MURRAY The Brighton Bengals defeated Timpanogos 2-1 and claimed the first-place trophy in the Utah High School State Hockey Championship on Wednesday night at the County Ice Center.
The Bengals completed a near-perfect season, running their record to 17-1 on the year with the win. At the conclusion of the game, the Bengals made like the Green Bay Packers in the end zone, diving over the glass wall into the crowd.
Brighton came into the championship round undefeated, and a loss would have meant another game with the Timberwolves. Timpanogos climbed through the loser's bracket and finished the year with a stellar 19-4 mark. The Timberwolves vow to return next year, as only one senior on the team will be lost to graduation.
The winning goal was scored by Shane Bowthorpe at the 10:31 mark of the third period. He flipped the shot in the air and it deflected off a defender and bounced into the goal.
Said Bowthorpe, "God was on our side on that one."
However, Timpanogos wasn't finished at that point and mounted a flurry of shots that were stopped by Brighton goalie Ian Stolk. In total, Stolk stopped 18 of 19 shots and was a key factor in the win. He gave credit to the whole team and only said about his effort: "I just focused."
Coach Alan Poole also attributed the win to a team effort and said, "We just came out and played our game."
In the first period, Timpanogos looked to be very aggressive with a number of hard hits. But by the third period, Brighton looked to have the edge in that department also.
Said Poole, "The hitting was incredible for both clubs."
In the first period, Stolk knocked away two shots in the first minute. Then Brighton settled down and Henry Gates slapped in the first goal from out on the right angle with 2:28 remaining in the first period.
Both defenses settled in for the second period and neither team was able to take advantage of power plays to score a goal.
Austin Strong got the lone goal for Timpanogos at the 6:32 mark of the final period. He busted loose on a breakaway, and the only way he beat Stolk was to flip the puck in the air, where it settled in the net just below the bar.Fighting was kept to a minimum until the last three seconds, and it got a little bit ugly but the officials were able to keep control. Brighton now advances to a regional tournament in Dallas in mid March.
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